Adulting 101

Author: Lisa Henry

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Links: Riptide and Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher


Blurb: The struggle is real.

Nick Stahlnecker is eighteen and not ready to grow up yet. He has a summer job, a case of existential panic, and a hopeless crush on the unattainable Jai Hazenbrook. Except how do you know that your coworker’s unattainable unless you ask to blow him in the porta-potty?

That’s probably not what Dad meant when he said Nick should act more like an adult.

Twenty-five-year-old Jai is back in his hometown of Franklin, Ohio, just long enough to earn the money to get the hell out again. His long-term goal of seeing more of the world is worth the short-term pain of living in his mother’s basement, but only barely.

Meeting Nick doesn’t fit in with Jai’s plans at all, but, as Jai soon learns, you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to have the adventure of a lifetime.

This is not a summer romance. This is a summer friendship-with-benefits. It’s got pizza with disgusting toppings, Netflix and chill, and accidental exhibitionism. That’s all. There are no feelings here. None. Shut up.


Review:  Nick Stahlnecker is smart, but directionless. About to start college, Nick is trying hard to be the kind of person his parents want him to be, but he feels like a kid playing grown-ups. It’s inevitable that he’s going to make an less than mature decision at some point, really. And that decision would be inappropriate shenanigans in the porta-potty with another (seriously hot) employee who’s arse Nick had been admiring for weeks. It also meant that both of them ended up jobless when their boss accidentally walked in on them.

It probably wasn’t one of Jai’s finer decisions when he let himself be persuaded to hook up with Nick at work. At twenty-five, he really should have known better. No job for the summer means no way to fund his travels for the rest of the year, and seeing the world is sure beats staying in Franklin. Jai has spent the last several years working hard for three months of the year so he can backpack around the world for the other nine months, and it’s a life he enjoys.

Nick might have been bored to tears with his job, but he does feel bad that he was also responsible for Jai losing his job. An apology is clearly needed, and if that leads to anything else, even a friendship with benefits, well what’s to complain about that. Having a relationship has never been on Jai’s agenda. Short term romances or hook ups with men and women are all he’s interested in having. After all, he’s travelling around the globe for nine months of the year, so it makes sense to keep things no strings attached. Then he meets Nick, and despite his best efforts it doesn’t take much for the young man to worm his way under Jai’s skin and into his heart.

Adulting 101 is a thoroughly enjoyable story with endearing characters and very little angst. I adored the MCs and loved watching their relationship grow. I loved getting to know both of them and seeing how, despite being opposites in a lot of ways, they actually complimented each other’s personalities. Jai may have been older and more mature, but he didn’t necessarily have all the answers, he’d just worked out what was right for him at that point in his life. Which certainly put him ahead of Nick, who’s really, really not ready to face the future and college and life decisions like what he wants to be when he grows up (because he doesn’t feel grown up at all). It’s Nick’s uncertainty and vulnerability that is truly touching, and something I can so relate to. I mean, I’m in my forties and I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up!

As much as I loved Nick and Jai, theirs isn’t the only wonderful relationship in this book. The friendship between Nick and Devon, his best friend since they were in third grade, is one of the best friendships I’ve ever read. They are hilarious and sweet and beyond adorable. The author does a fantastic job of giving their friendship enough focus to show how important they are to each other and how big a part of Nick’s life Devon is, without detracting from the romance between Nick and Jai. I also love Jai’s family, and how close they are.

The only thing that didn’t fully work from me with this book was the use of present tense. I found it a little more distancing than I would have liked to feel with this particular story, but it really was a minor niggle in the end and I highly recommend giving the book a try. From the blurb to the last word, the well-balanced humour – there throughout the story, but not dominating it – the incredibly well drawn characters, and the emotional connection I had with them, made for a wonderful read. The ending was perfect – well, apart from the fact that it ended. I’d have happily read about all the adventures these two would manage to get up to together; hopefully uninterrupted by family members or bosses!

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